Hobart, New York

There is a little town that is bursting with bookstores about a 25 minute drive from the cabin I stay in during school semesters. I drove through it by happenstance and I’ll admit, was a bit overwhelmed! I only entered one store because I didn’t have enough money or time to indulge too greatly, but will definitely make a road trip with a bibliophile friend or so over the Summer. My first pile of Hobart books: WP_20180108_10_24_12_Pro (1)
As I picked these up at the beginning of a semester, I haven’t been able to read the larger books yet but read through the two small poetry chapbooks before bed at night to wash the academia out of my brain.

The Mushroom at the End of the World


I was fortunate enough to be assigned this book for a transnational lives graduate seminar.  When it came in the mail, I was away from home and asked my husband to open the package so I knew which book had arrived. When he saw the title, he told me “This isn’t for school, this is a “you” book!” Sometimes, reading assignments can perfectly align with your interests.

This book tracks a mushroom that cannot be mass produced (and thus mass marketed) and draws a wide specialized global market. The mushroom is used as a metaphor for the often displaced and disjointed lives engaged in by people such as immigrants, refugees, survivors, and capitalist dissidents. The mushroom only grows in disturbed forests, both its thriving and its harvest occur in tandem with the spoils of modern notions of development. The book uses this metaphor to speak about adaption, survival, and the territorial and ideological limits of seemingly all-pervasive forces. It is a very sensory experience that speaks through smells and tastes as much as through text.

Past Lives Poem

Featured in the #FINALPOEMS series on the Enclave page of Entropy magazine

Past lives poem

I guess you can say I’ve been busy

Living lives anything but epic
Basking in a thousand rays of sunshine
But never in fame or honor

I’ve been busy
While you were in Atlantis
Creating what would become
The field of science

I was in France, digging into dark caves
With hands full of ochre and soot
Making sure the world would always know
The shape of my right hand and foot
And the sweet contours
Of the local buffalo
When Jesus was busy gathering
You twelve disciples and three lovely ladies
I was hitch-hiking the silk road in Han China,
Writing new poems
On the new invention of paper

While you were scheming
In the courts of Cleopatra and Marc Antony,
I was busy pouring out my gold and blood
To the sun in Mayan temples

While you were sketching with DaVinci
During the renaissance I was
Being born into endless cycles
Of brutal beatings, lynchings, and forced labor
In the centuries
Of African colonization and slavery

While you were sitting lotus with Gandhi
In peaceful protest
And running naked through Woodstock
With various grasses between your toes,
Stuck in your hair, and breathed deep into your lungs

I was sewing beads into babies’ moccasins
While grinding roots and seeds
To create paint to decorate
Faces, horses, and pottery

I was dropping out of art school
To join a street circus
And maintain a starving artistic integrity
That no one respected
While waiting for under-nourishment
And sexually transmitted maladies
To turn my wary paranoia into
A soon to be be-headed
Headful of insanity

I was getting drunk and into bar fights
With Jackson Pollack

I was in bed with Miles Davis
Giving birth to cool

I was the night clerk
At the Chelsea Hotel

I was the security detail in
Warhol’s factory

I was the designer who sat down at a sewing machine
With yards and yards of polyurethane polymers
To construct the pants
Of David Lee Roth

While you were spending a century
Growing into a noble, wise, beautiful oak tree

I was baking in the sun
Amidst miles and miles of limestone
Spineless and grey-green
I popped peyote buttons out of myself
To lure priests
And induce visions

You may bear the memory scars
Of wars, deaths, murders, and failures

But I have a million birth memories
Into larval insect bodies
And memories of lives
That may have lasted under a week
But with rebirths and passionate reproductions
That enabled me to fly,
Gave me the strength and limbs to run,
Broke through my exoskeleton
And left me the legacy
Of being father to innumerable trillions

You may know exactly which Civil War uniform
You died and were barely buried wearing

But I was the prison guard who smuggled
Paper and ink to the Marquis de Sade

You may have travelled
In Tubman’s underground railroad

But I was busy taking over a full year to
Construct and stitch a quilt
That could communicate through trade routes and history
The stories, habits, prides, and struggles of my family

Yeah you can say
I’ve been  busy
I never changed the world,
I just did a lot of work,
Punched a lot of clocks,
Named a lot of babies,
Swept a lot of floors,
Avoided many revolutions and wars,

Was part of more counter-cultures
Than kingdoms or empires
And died alone in the woods
More times than I’ve been publicly staked
And set to fire

I’ve been pretty busy

I may not have been in any
Major predictions,
But at least Nostradamus took the time
In his forwards
To thank me,

His inter-dimensional,
Proofreading editor

Dirt. And rocks. And rocks. And more dirt.



Just one pile of dirt in a series of piles of dirt. Thrilling!

The entire back yard currently looks like a work site, as we have been digging out an enormous hole to build a garden up out of.  I’ll post about the garden another time, but for now I want to engage the mundane task of reveling in rocks and dirt. Sound under-thrilling? Well I spend just about all my time on days off from work hauling rocks and dirt around my yard, so this is a peek into my “leisure” activities, if you will.

This giant mound of dirt is a project within a project wrapped up in a project with a few projects on the side.

  1. Turning the earth and removing rocks to get the ground ready for the garden
  2. eventually making a fire pit and “patio” (extreme stretch of the term) out of the very large rocks that have come up
  3. making a rock wall around my wildflower/pollinator garden with the medium size rocks
  4. making a stone path through my back yard to the state park that’s behind my house

The very large rocks will be starring in their own post one day, for now we’ll focus on the smaller stuff.



a pile of rocks. when I fit them neatly together, they will make a section of the wall



the rock wall in an early stage

That ocean of green weeds you see  behind the wall is mugwort. I spend a fantastic amount of time digging it out of my yard and replacing it with wildflower seeds so that bees, butterflies, hummingbird moths, and other pollinators will be happy in my yard.


mugwort roots, the bane of my existence

Mugwort is a very invasive species that is incredibly difficult to get rid of and will take over any spot of dirt it sees. There is a state park with beautiful hiking paths and brooks behind my house, but you have to make your way through mugwort that can grow over 6 feet tall to get there. So I’ve been making a pathway through the mugwort, hauling rocks by bucket and wheelbarrow to make for an easy passage.


the mugwort doesn’t quite look happy that I’ve taken some of it’s ground


hauling rocks. per norm.


These projects will be updated as they progress-  hey- and eventually get completed! But for now this should explain such things as 1. my farmer tan 2. why my boots are perpetually shaking out dirt 3. why I’m so sore after a day off.





Three new beaded pieces



Necklace with vintage cameo and pink stone beads

My mother-in-law gifted me this cameo a few years ago and I never knew quite what I wanted to make out of it until I found this vintage Aquarius locket on ebay while researching a different vintage Aquarius pendant I own


Vintage Aquarius locket with long beaded necklace

Seeing the cameo and locket together, I knew they should be paired with brass beads to accentuate their age and character! I made the locket necklace long enough to wear doubled up or to leave long while paired with a skirt or dress for a 1920’s look.


Beaded anklet with pearls and seashells

While I was at it, I threw together an anklet for myself! During late winter or chilly days of spring, I like to make summer jewelry for myself to celebrate and bring focus to the beautiful warm days to come.  I suppose it’s a fashionable kind of therapy! I usually make very brightly colored anklets so I have been finding plenty of uses for this more subdued one.




Gluten Free Flour Mixture

I’ve been big on baking since childhood, so when I first had to go GF it struck me as a tragedy to no longer be able to bake/knead bread or throw together a batch of cookies.  While I am dedicated to recipe-free living, I spent some time in cookbooks and on GF websites to try and figure out the secrets to GF baking. I tried just about every flour blend I could find in the process.  Here’s a quick breakdown of what I found:

  1. Many gluten free flour blends are full of relatively unhealthy things/ starches that help the flour stick together but are unhelpful to digestion and your daily nutrient intake. If you are buying a flour blend and the first few ingredients are potato/corn/tapioca starch, you are not doing your body any favors. The same goes for any gluten free product, i.e. when I buy GF bread I always check to make sure that the first few ingredients are whole food flours such as brown rice, garbanzo, quinoa…

    With that said, I reserve the use of starchy GF flour blends for baking something for show/ an event/ a gift. Those starches that make your baked goods less healthy also help your baked goods have a good consistency! From what I’ve experienced, at times they are necessary to create a similar texture and lightness to wheat flour items.

  2. Gluten Free cookbooks offer ridiculous flour blend solutions. I’ve seen some that have you blending 7 different flours together. Not that I don’t stock a solid arsenal of flours (which I’ll get into next), but I require simpler and more streamlined options! It’s a lot of work to go from using one item (wheat flour) to pre-blending seven items for the same purpose!
  3. Bob’s Red Mill is everything. Whether you are buying your own arsenal of flours or just going for a GF brownie mix that does all the work for you, this brand is trustworthy and consistently fantastic.
  4. No single flour blend is perfect for every single need. It’s good to have a number of flours at hand to customize toward flavor and texture. I realize this conflicts with my insistence that GF blending must be simple, so I will break down a simple way of mixing in different flours for specific results.



A picture of cookies to break up the serious flour talk. Now, back to serious flour talk.



Having been GF for almost ten years now, I have found my way back to recipe-free baking and can throw together pancakes, cookies, or a bundt cake anytime I like with great results and without added complication! My go-to flour blend is healthy and simple. So simple that there is no need to pre-blend it! Here it is: for every cup of “flour”, I use half a cup of brown rice flour and half a cup of almond flour, with two tablespoons of coconut flour added in. That’s a bit convoluted, so allow me to explain so I can continue insisting that it’s simple. First off, I don’t actually measure the coconut flour. I basically take a half-cup measuring cup, fill it about 1/4 way with coconut flour, then fill it the rest of the way with almond flour. This is because I abhor excessive measuring. Here’s what’s awesome about this flour:

  1. it’s nutrient rich and includes no added starches
  2. it won’t break the bank, as brown rice flour is basically the cheapest GF flour you can get
  3. coconut flour absorbs fluids very intensely, so it takes the place of a starch in holding your baked good together. Sure, it doesn’t result in as much of a wheat-flour-like texture as starches can, but it’s better for your digestion and nutrient intake!

The cookies in the image above were baked with that flour blend, and they look pretty straightforward, right? My golden ration of GF flours always results well!



Brownies made with my flour blend


This blend of three flours is my go-to, yet I keep quite a few other flours at hand, such as garbanzo, buckwheat, oat, sorghum, and ground flax seed for now, I haven’t tried quinoa flour yet but will soon. When I want to use one of those flours, I basically just add it into my blend with the same sensibility of replacing a cup of flour. For example, I would use 1/3 cup brown rice flour, 1/3 cup almond flour (with a little coconut flour added to the measuring cup), and 1/3 cup oat flour to replace a cup of flour in a recipe. These different flours offer different textures and flavors to what you are baking.

Oat Flour
is a bit sticky when wet, which you can imagine if you consider how oatmeal thickens up! This makes oat flour helpful for recipes where you want a denser consistency. I add it to my blend when I make brownies, and sometimes for pancakes because I like the oat flavor in them but this makes for some pretty thick pancakes.

Garbanzo Flour
is high in protein and commonly found in commercial Gf baked goods. Garbanzo flour is nutrient rich and great for baked goods with a crispy consistency, but will add the flavor of garbanzo’s. I’ve found that in baked sweets, you may not taste the garbanzo the first day you’ve made your treat, but the flavor becomes more pronounced the longer it sits on your counter. Because of this (and it’s added crispy consistency), I tend to use it for non-sweet items, such as GF pizza dough, veggie burgers, or to bread something for frying.

Sorgum Flour
provides almost as good a consistency in your flour blend as brown rice flour does, so it’s nice to have on hand for if you run out of brown rice flour! I mainly keep this flour stocked for when I make South Asian food, as you can make roti’s with it.

Buckwheat Flour
has a gritty consistency like graham flour, so it is good for a heartier texture. I use it to make focaccia breads or when I try make biscuits (haven’t really gotten them down yet…).

Ground Flax Seed
flax works even better than coconut flour at absorbing fluids and binding your batter together. I use it when I’m making something that needs that extra stickiness, such as when I’m making blueberry muffins, as the stickiness prevents the blueberries from getting weighed down to the bottom of the muffin. Ground flax will change the appearance and texture of your baked good, however, in that it is not a fine flour so it adds a fibrous texture.

Again, when I use one of these flours I just add 1/3 a cup of it to 1/3 a cup brown rice flour and 1/3 a cup of almond flour with a little coconut flour added in.  It’s a simple way to customize baking results.

As I experiment with other flours I will be adding to this post and sharing the results, I’d love to hear flour feedback as well!  

Eslanda Robeson

eslanda front
Finished this book tonight, and rather sad to have it be done. What an inspiring lady! The many reflections in this book brought me in ways to a better understanding of myself. Essie was an anthropologist who was not entirely academic, but driven by a love of the world and a desire to glory in it’s cultures, defend the marginalized/dehumanized, and set right and fair all the world’s wrongs. Her story is an important brick in the wall of understanding American history- she was an absolute agitator because there was so much in the status quo that was worthy of agitating against- and to read about her life is to understand that she was more than a trailblazer, she was a… trail volcano? This book is written to be an informative and adoring  document displaying who Essie was.  Because of who she was, it often reads more like a textbook than a biography.  The woman was so involved with the political climate of her time and honestly, of the future, that describing her interactions and activities becomes almost immediately a work of academic detail.

eslanda This is a perfect summary of how and why she demands such an academic voice.  She has become, for me, an iconic hero.

essie 1

The American Machine

Poem previously published in “Rise: An Anthology of Power and Unity” by Vagabond Books


The American Machine

In the America I live in,
Much is made of the American gangster

This is why “Scarface” and “The Godfather”
Don’t leave weekly cable tv rotation

But it also spreads to the famous
American notion of success-
“The dream”

In which everyone must
Start from nothing to gain something

Even seen in the way Americans laud
The born-into-it big timer
As long as he served a summer stint at McDonalds
Or if he in any other way devoted himself
To a great American franchise

I am not generalizing but absolutely do mean
Because the American dream
Provides different avenues for a female
She comes up not from common labor and pluck
But out of motherhood
Sexual abuse
Or decades of marriage

What I mean is we like to see the men-

Who we can say understands
The value of the American dollar
(our values)
Because he has dabbled temporarily
In what could be described as
The issue here is that
I’ve had many friends and acquaintances
Who had plenty of pluck
Good luck
Worth ethic
And strike-it-rich intentions

And yet never made it above
Floor manager
Head server
Key holder
Opening supervisor

Or some other condescending stunt
That clearly was meant to say
You are better than average
But should be paid
Only slightly above average

I have known so many people
That worked hard and were willing
To work harder
Who worked a 70 hour work week
On a meager salary check that was designed
To abuse them

I have known many men and women
Who kept as keen to 70 hours a week schedules
As a well sharpened knife
Hoping it could cleave them to ease and a better income

While a life of ease remains a needle head
That almost no one threads

Some of the hardest working people I’ve known
Were single mothers and ex-convicts
Who worked on factory assembly lines
After eventually coming to understand
That much like in grade-school sports
Non-participation in the American economy
Is more despised than failure to succeed

(The American dream is a deliberate machine
That produces citizens who are prepared
To do whatever it takes to succeed in some way
The gangster no different from the lawmaker
From the paid lover
From the president
From the CEO
From the distributer
From the boy at 14 first learning to con with an innocent smile
To chase this dream is to admit one’s self
To a series of self-degradations
That may prove to be endless

But just may prove in the end
That you are worthy to degrade others)